- 1½ kg chestnuts in shells, or 800g prepared chestnuts (vacuum-packed or from a jar)
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- 1 orange
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- 1 vanilla pod
- 250g granulated sugar
- 250g light brown sugar
- 100ml Cointreau
To peel the chestnuts, cut a nick in each one on the flat side. Put 6 on a plate and microwave for 1 min on High. Then, wearing rubber gloves, peel off the outer skin and inner brown membrane. Continue until all the chestnuts are peeled. (If you don’t have a microwave, you can roast the chestnuts in the oven at 200C/180C fan/gas 6 for 15-20 mins.) Put them in a pan, cover with water and bring to the boil, then simmer for 25 mins. Drain well.
Pare thin strips of zest from the orange using a vegetable peeler. Cut the vanilla pod in half lengthways. Put the orange strips, vanilla pod, sugars and 400ml water in a pan and bring slowly to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer for about 15 mins until syrupy. Remove from the heat and stir in the Cointreau.
Pack the prepared chestnuts into sterilised jars (see below) and pour over the syrup to cover. Seal the jars. The chestnuts will keep in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.
Sterilising your jars
Wash in hot soapy water, rinse, then drain and set upright in a roasting tin in one layer. Put in the oven at 180C/ 160C fan/gas 4 for 10 mins. If your jars have a rubber seal, remove before putting the jars in the oven. To sterilise the seals, simply boil in water.